Marine Corps University briefs new changes to Marines
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan -- Marine Corps University representatives briefed commissioned and staff noncommissioned officers at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, on the career course seminar distance education program and the blended seminar program at the Sakura Theater Aug. 5, 2015.
The career course seminar distance education program is developed as part of MCU’s College of Distance and Education Training efforts to provide every Marine a resident professional military education experience. CCS offers staff sergeants the opportunity to attend either the resident career course at one of the four SNCO academies or in the distance education program where they will interact with a professional instructor and a collection of their peers in an academic environment.
“Right now, what Marine Corps University is trying to do is close this educational gap in the enlisted ranks,” said Sgt. Maj. Sergio MartinezRuiz, Marine Aircraft Group 12 sergeant major. “They are trying to be more flexible and provide more opportunities to the enlisted Marines, so they can meet their education requirements.”
MartinezRuiz, an El Paso, Texas, native, said some Marines with critical military occupational specialties cannot afford to leave their sections to attend a two month resident course. By implementing this gap filler, Marines can continue to man their battle stations while fulfilling their PME requirements.
The distance education program is currently executed at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., and will be incrementally expanded across the Corps. This capability is molded after the highly successful officer seminar program for Expeditionary Warfare School and Command and Staff College. Blackboard and other learning technologies are used to improve the learning and education experience for Marines both onsite and online.
“(College of Distance and Education Training) provides MarineNet, officer distance education programs and enlisted distance education programs,” said Dr. Jim Hopkins, regional director for CDET. “What my office does is establish programs within the Western Pacific region. We have a new program called the blended seminar program and it’s for our officers.”
The blended seminar program is part of the 36th Commandant’s Planning Guidance to expand resident PMEs. With BPS, the PMEs are broken into three segments: the first conducted residentially, the second done online and the remainder completed residentially.
“To initiate the process, there’s a (Marine administrative message) that comes out that lists the seat allocations by (military occupational specialty),” said Hopkins. “It’s managed by (III Marine Expeditionary Force) and (Marine Corps Installations Pacific). Marines enrolled in both EWS and CS become full time students for the first resident period, which is four weeks long. Then they return to Iwakuni and complete the online portion. The online portion for EWS is 12 weeks and is 28 weeks for CS. To complete their training, Marines return to the resident course.”
Hopkins is working with the senior enlisted population to set up a career course seminar aboard MCAS Iwakuni. Hopkins said being a new program, there is a shock effect that poses questions about the career course seminar: how it’s going to work and how it compares to the academy.
“This is the first time we’re doing this, so it’s hard to gauge the pros and cons, but I think, from just looking at it from the sidelines, it’s going to be a great opportunity for the Marines and will help us identify those top notch Marines,” said MartinezRuiz.